UFC flyweight champion Demetrious Johnson has heard the criticisms by now.
He very well might be the top pound-for-pound fighter in the world and he’s among the greatest champions in the history of mixed martial arts. But he’s never going to be considered one of the sport’s all-time great drawing cards.
That critique flared anew when word broke on Sunday morning that Johnson’s masterful third-round submission of Wilson Reis at Saturday night’s UFC on FOX 24, which tied Anderson Silva’s UFC record with 10 successful title defenses, did the lowest overnight ratings numbers in the history of the series at 1.74 million viewers.
But Johnson has made his peace with the numbers. At this stage of the game, either you dig “Mighty Mouse” or you don’t. And the champ is okay with whichever side you fall on.
“If you don’t like what I did Saturday night, if you don’t like a white belt who never did one jiu-jitsu tournament submitting a black belt, that’s your bag. I’m done defending myself,” Johnson said on Monday’s edition of The MMA Hour.
Johnson, an avid gamer, said he went on Twitch in the lead-up to his fight in Kansas City and informally polled fans on whether they had seen any advertising for the card.
“I went on Twitch and said, ‘I want to ask anyone in the world, have any of you guys seen a commercial for my fight?’” Johnson said. “And everyone was like, ‘no, no no.’ One guy said, ‘I saw one on UFC.com YouTube channel.’ I’m like ‘okay, I haven’t seen one either.’”
Johnson didn’t see an ad until UFC 210 on April 8, which means the UFC basically gave the show one week’s worth of promotion.
“The first time I saw a commercial for my fight was UFC 210,” Johnson said. “The last one, the first time I saw a commercial was one week before my fight. No one here around [his hometown] knew I was fighting, just because they didn’t see a commercial.”
So the way Johnson sees it, if the UFC isn’t going to put much effort into promoting his fights, he’s not going to waste too much energy worrying about it.
“You have to take into account, how much advertising did they do?” Johnson said. “I put that in the back of my mind and then don’t worry about it and go out there and put it out of my mind.”